Flight safety and national security cannot be compromised, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Katharine Chang (張小月) said yesterday, and urged the Chinese government to respect the public opinion in Taiwan and launch negotiations with the government.
Chang made the remarks at the council’s annual year-end news conference in response to China’s unilateral activation of northbound flights on the M503 route earlier this month.
She also presented an annual summary report and explained the council’s goals for this year.
The activation of the northbound flights and three extension routes — W121, W122 and W123 — on Jan. 4 affects flight safety and Taiwan’s national security, Chang said.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration’s (CAA) freezing the approval of two Chinese airlines’ application for a total of 176 additional flights during the Lunar New Year holiday is a light response to Beijing’s move and the nation’s high level of constraint has gained public acclaim, she said.
The activation of the route is a cross-strait issue that should go beyond pan-blue and pan-green politics, and the government should not be involved in cross-strait negotiations regarding civil aviation routes, Chang said.
The nation should reach a consensus and refuse to compromise on the issue, she said, adding that the government is urging Beijing to launch negotiations to resolve the conflict as soon as possible.
“The Chinese government has repeatedly said that the activation of the M503 flight route and three extension routes is its internal affair, and has nothing to do with Taiwan’s flight routes and destinations” Chang said. “However, this significantly differs from the reality of cross-strait interactions and we cannot accept this remark.”
Both sides of the Taiwan Strait reached a consensus on the usage of the routes through a civil aviation “mini-cross-strait meeting” in March 2015, so the government is insisting on and executing the policy that was enforced by the former administration, she said, adding that the conflict should technically be negotiated in another meeting, not through politics.
Whether the issue could be resolved in a satisfactory manner would a test to see if the Chinese government respects public opinion in Taiwan, and an important indicator for Taiwanese to estimate the development of cross-strait relations, so Beijing should not underestimate its meaning, Chang said.
Asked about the Chinese government’s suppression of Taiwan in the international community while offering incentives to Taiwanese, she said more challenges in cross-strait relations are expected this year as Beijing continues to neglect official negotiations while increasing civilian interactions.
However, there is a political aim behind China’s offering of incentives to Taiwanese, so the government would review and amend regulations to deal with the situation, Chang added.
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